My Estate Planning Tool Kit

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					     My Estate Planning Tool Kit

Eight Stories to Guide Your Estate Planning Strategy
        And Useful Forms You Can Adapt to
                 Your Personal Needs
Aloha, Namaste and thank you for requesting Hindu Heritage Endowment’s Estate Planning Tool Toolkit. You
will feel a great sense of satisfaction and relief when your Will and/or Trust is completed. This toolkit will help
you take the first steps toward that goal. It includes:

        • Basic estate planning information from the American Bar Association

        • An Estate Planning Inventory Form to organize information before you visit your attorney

        • Values Planning: Questions to Ask before You Plan Your Estate

        • How to Remember the Hindu Heritage Endowment in Your Will

        This toolkit also offers a practical guide to many non-legal issues including your wishes regarding final
arrangements, and a list of where important documents are kept. The Hindu Heritage Endowment wants you
and all its donors to have effective estate plans: Wills and/or Trusts that are properly worded, signed, witnessed,
and not contradicted by other binding arrangements you may have made and practical instructions from you
that will help your family get through a difficult time.

       Effective estate planning usually takes time, effort and a good attorney. But in the end your plan will
allow your family to avoid the delay, dissension and needless expense that often occurs when a loved one dies
without a Will.

        Once you have taken care of your family’s needs, please consider a thoughtful bequest to Hindu Heritage
Endowment. Your gift allows you to help preserve the rich heritage of Hindu thought, practice and culture for
future generations.
  If you have any questions about the enclosed, please call our planned giving specialist Phil Murphy at (415) 457-7482

MISSION STATEMENT: Hindu Heritage Endowment is a publicly supported, charitable organization recognized as tax exempt
by the IRS on April 22, 1994. Employer ID 99-0308924. Founded by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, its philanthropic mission
is to provide secure, professionally managed financial support for institutions and religious leaders of all lineages of Sanatana
PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS: Halbert, Hargrove/Russell, Investment Counsel; Alvin G. Buchignani, Esq., Legal Counsel; and
Sonoda & Isara, LLP, CPA; Phil Murphy, Planned Giving Specialist. HHE is a member of the Council on Foundations, an associa-
tion of more than 2,000 foundations which interprets relevant law and management and investment principles, and of the Na-
tional Committee on Planned Giving, the voice and professional resource for the gift planning community.

For information on estate-planning tools, contact Swami Shanmuganatha at 808-822-3012 extension 244.

                            Hindu Heritage endowment
                            KAuAI’S HINDu MONASTERY, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304 USA
                            808-822-3012 ext 244 • fax: 808-822-3152 • •

                                          ESTATE INVENTORY FORM

   This form is not as bad as it looks, and it could save you and your attorney valuable time. By filling out this
form and bringing it to your first appointment, you will be providing your attorney with much of the informa-
tion needed to draft an estate plan.

We may spend many hours planning a small trip of a few days, deciding what to wear, what gifts we will take,
planning out travel schedules and so on, but how many of us have formulated a careful plan for our final journey,
the greatest one of all?

Depending upon the laws in your country, it is wise to seek proper legal advice in creating your will and keeping
it current. However, even before you seek professional advice, you can save time and money by thinking through
the basics of your will. A good approach is to write down the four P’s of estate planning:

• Persons. who are the people and charitable interests for whom you would like to provide?

• Property. List all of your property, in whatever form, along with its cost and today’s value. This includes per-
sonal property, such as stocks, bonds, automobiles and jewelry, as well as land and homes.

• Plans. Consider how you would like to “match” your property with the persons in your life.

• Planners. List all professional advisors who can assist you in making your plans a reality.

1. Name ________________________________________________________

  Address ____________________________________________________


Phone (Work) ___________________________ (Home) _____________________________

Place and Date of Birth ________________________________________

Social Security Number ____________________________ U.S. Citizen? ___

Single? o    Married? o     Widowed? o       Separated? o       Divorced? o

2. Spouse _____________________________________________________
Place and Date of Birth ________________________________________

Social Security Number ____________________________ U.S. Citizen? ____

3. Children                      Age                   Address

(A) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(B) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(C) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(D) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(E) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

4. Grandchildren                        Age                  Parent

(1) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(2) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(3) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(4) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(5) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(6) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(7) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(8) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(9) __________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(10)__________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(11)__________________________ _______ __________________________________________________
(12)__________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(13)__________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(14)__________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

(15)__________________________ _______ __________________________________________________

        The following is meant to give your attorney a good idea of the total value of your estate. Knowing your
total worth is important to determine the type of estate plan that will keep your estate tax as low as possible.


Description and location           Market Value         Debt

______________________________ $___________ $____________

______________________________ $___________ $____________

______________________________ $___________ $____________

______________________________ $___________ $____________

______________________________ $___________ $____________

TOTAL:                                                     $____________
(Total value of real estate = market value less debt)

6. PERSONAL PROPERTY Please list approximate current value:

Automobile(s)                          $_____________

Savings and Checking Accounts          $_____________

Stocks/Bonds                           $_____________

Household Furnishings                  $_____________
Other Personal Assets                  $_____________

7. Death Benefits from Insurance       $_____________

8. Expected inheritance                $_____________

9. TOTAL VALUE OF ESTATE:              $_____________
   (Add all of the above, including total real estate value)

10. Name of Bank(s) ____________________________________________________________________

11. Names of stocks, bonds and other investment: _____________________________________________


12. Executor ___________________________________ Alternate ______________________________

13. Funeral Arrangements ________________________________________________________________



       Names of Persons or Charitable Organizations










10. _____________________________________________________________________________________

11. _____________________________________________________________________________________

12. _____________________________________________________________________________________

                                                Values Planning

Questions to Ask before You Plan Your Estate

1.     How do you want to be remembered? By whom?

2.     What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children?

3.     How much?

4.     How do you want your children to use this legacy?

5.     Do you have a plan to achieve your goals for your children?

6.      Are your children trained in handling the wealth you intend to leave them? If not, you can begin the pro-
cess by providing the opportunity for them to learn these skills by using a charitable fund or family investment

7.     What values would you like to pass to your children?

8.     What would your children say your values are?

9.     What causes do you support?

10.    Would you like the activities you support to continue after your death?

11.    Are there other causes you would like to support?

                                         Records of Personal Information
At the time of a person’s sudden illness or death, family members or friends are often faced with the need for
certain information. It is extremely helpful for them to have access to a record of insurance papers, marriage and
birth certificates, bank account numbers, investments, etc.

For married couples, each spouse should compile separate information and prepare separate documents, al-
though many of the materials will be the same.

This booklet can help you make decisions about what is to happen to your assets and your corporal self at the
time of incapacitation or death. It also provides a place to make and keep a record of the information others
would need. It is important to keep it up to date and in a place known by at least one other family member or a
close friend. Review the information periodically, preferably with the person(s) who must use the information.
We suggest that you make one or more copies of the information sheets after completing them. Keep one copy
with important papers and put others in sealed envelopes and give them to trusted persons. Instructions are not
legally binding, but show the intent of the person signing the form as of the date signed.

                            To Whomever Takes Responsibility for Final Arrangements
In calm recognition of the inevitable, I have given thought to my personal wishes concerning my final arrange-
ments. I feel that the effort I have made to pull information together and state my wishes will minimize the
emotional strain on my survivors. I do not wish them to be burdened by the great pressures of having to make
immediate decisions on unfamiliar matters that inescapably must be made if I do not make them now.
Difficult though it may be for me to set this down, I feel that my loved ones would find it more difficult to make
the decisions with no indication of my specific wishes. Though these wishes may not be legally binding, I trust
that they will help my survivors avoid confusion, extra expense, or the least self-reproach that might arise be-
cause of doubts, omissions, or commissions.

Signature                                             Date

                                                   Final Farewell

I intend the rituals following my death to reflect my life, loves, and values.
 (It is suggested that you fill out the following in consultation with the Temple leaders, providing a copy of these
instructions for their files.)
Circumstances permitting, I wish my funeral service to take place at:
Location ___________________________________________________
Address _________________________________ City/ZIP __________
My second choice would be: __________________________________
If you are wish a traditional ceremony used, specify the nature of the ceremony:
If possible, I would like to have the following readings:
Policy regarding acceptance of flowers within religious buildings vary. Instead of sending flowers, many prefer
to encourage a more lasting memorial. Most religious groups have both a general memorial fund and a build-
ing fund, as do many charities. Memorial gifts may also be made to the Hindu Heritage Endowment. (If you so
desire, please indicate where you would like to have such contributions made:)
I prefer to be:

o Cremated
o Before or o after the funeral
Disposal of Ashes
o Buried
Location of cemetery lot deed, crypt deed:
I have made arrangements to have certain parts or all of my body donated to:
Funeral Home to use: __________________________________________________________________
Coffin specifications: o Least expensive o Mid-range o Elaborate
I __ do / ___ do not wish to have my coffin open at the funeral home.

Other information for my survivors such as orders to cancel bills and subscriptions, contacting credit card com-
panies and the location of audio or video messages:

Signature ____________________________________________________________ Date ____________

                                    Information for My Friends and Family

Final Directions and instructions upon the death of:
Name                                                          Date
(File this information where it will be found easily upon your death. It is suggested that you also file this with
your religious organization, if any, and/or your attorney, and notify your heirs that the form has been completed
for their information.)
Name (Complete) ______________________________________________
Birth Date:______________ Place of Birth: _________________________
Spouse’s Name: ________________________________________________
Spouse’s Address: _____________________________________________
Spouse’s Birth Date: _____________ Spouse’s Place of Birth: _______________________
Religious Affiliation: _______________________________________________________
Name and Address of religious organization: ____________________________________
Father’s Full Name: ____________________________________________
Birth Date/Place: ______________________________ Living o Yes o No
Mother’s Full Name: ____________________________________________
Birth Date/Place: ______________________________ Living o Yes o No
Names, addresses, and phone numbers of living brothers and sisters:
1.       ___________________________________________________________
2.       ___________________________________________________________
3.       ___________________________________________________________
(We also recommend keeping an up-to-date address and telephone book. This can be a big help in notifying oth-
ers in times of emergency.)
Location of Book _______________________________________________
Names, addresses, and phone numbers of other persons to notify upon my death:
1.       ___________________________________________________________
2.       ___________________________________________________________
3.       ___________________________________________________________
4.       ___________________________________________________________
5.       ___________________________________________________________
The following nearby person has agreed to care for my family (or pets) temporarily:
My Occupation: ________________________________________________
Employer (Name & Address): _____________________________________
Social Security Number: _______________________________
Last Will or Living Trust executed on: ___________ Will or living trust is located at:
Advance medical directive executed on: ___________ Advance medical directive is located at:
Durable power of attorney executed on: ___________ Durable power of attorney is located at:

Personal Representative’s (“Executor’s”) name and address: __________________
Bank Accounts/Savings Institution Accounts/Other Income-Producing Accounts:
Name of Institution                   Type                  Account Number
1.     ___________________________________________________________
2.     ___________________________________________________________
3.     ___________________________________________________________
4.     ___________________________________________________________
5.     ___________________________________________________________
Safe Deposit Box Number & Location: _____________________________
Location of Safe Deposit Box Key: ________________________________
Armed Forces Date of Service: ___________ Branch: ______________________
Serial Number: _________________________________
Discharge Certificate located at: ___________________
Attorney’s name and address: _____________________________________
Investment counselor or banker’s name and address: __________________________________________
Insurance agent’s name and address:________________________________
Life Insurance Co.              Amount                 Certificate #           Beneficiary
1.      ___________________________________________________________
2.      ___________________________________________________________
3.      ___________________________________________________________
4.      ___________________________________________________________
Insurance Policies are located at: __________________________________
Credit and charge accounts:
Company                  Account Number
Organizations/Associations/Societies/Unions/Lodges/Professional Association, etc.
(Include office or position--past/present, and check if organization is to be notified).
Organization                                                           Notify:
Regarding disposition of personal effects (clothes, jewelry, paintings, etc.) unless otherwise specified in will:
(Note: this list expresses your preferences but has no legal standing; in your will you may incorporate by refer-
ence such a list to make it legally binding.)

            Article                                       Beneficiary
_________________________________             _________________________
_________________________________             _________________________
_________________________________             _________________________
_________________________________             _________________________
_________________________________             _________________________
_________________________________             _________________________

Since the survivor will be faced with many problems, the following additional documents may be necessary in
establishing rights to insurance, pensions, Social Security, ownership, relationship, etc. Indicate location for each
item listed.
(H) Home        (D) Safe Deposit Box      (O) Office      (A) Attorney
_____ Marriage License                        _____ Legal proof of age/birth cert.
_____ Citizenship papers                      _____ Survivor’s Pension Information
_____ Bill of Sale for care/title, reg.       _____ Stocks
_____ Bank books                              _____ Other _________________________
_____ Deeds to property                       _____ Other _________________________
_____ Income tax returns,
         receipts/canceled checks



                                        SAMPLE BEQUEST LANGUAGE


Having thought through the four P’s, there are four different ways that a gift in a will can be made. They are:

1) a percentage of the estate.
2) a fixed dollar amount.
3) specific property such as stocks, bonds or real estate.
4) the residue of the estate.

The following sample wording for each of the four ways of giving is provided as a general guideline to use in
wording your will to include a gift to HHE. Similar wording can be used for bequests for each person you want
to include in your will. However, be sure to consult with legal and financial professionals before the wording of
your will is finalized.

1) “I give _______________________ percent (__________ %) of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate
to Hindu Heritage Endowment.”
2) “I give, devise and bequeath to the Hindu Heritage Endowment, the sum of _______________________ dol-
lars ($ _______________)”
3) “I give the following described property: _______________________________________________________
 to Hindu Heritage Endowment.”
4) “I give all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate to Hindu Heritage Endowment.”
For an unrestricted gift to HHE, the following wording should also be included:

“Hindu Heritage Endowment (HHE) is a charitable trust whose Federal Employer Identification Number is
#99-0808924, located at 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304, USA. This gift to HHE is to be as-
signed at the sole discretion of the HHE trustees to one or more existing or new funds and may be commingled
for investment purposes with other funds administered by HHE without restriction as to permissible invest-
ments. The principal of this gift shall be held in perpetuity, and the income (as determined by HHE) may be
distributed to the beneficiary institutions.”

For a restricted gift to HHE, the following wording should also be included:

“Hindu Heritage Endowment (HHE) is a charitable trust whose Federal Employer Identification Number is
#99-0808924, located at 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304, USA. This gift to HHE is to be as-
signed to the fund ____________________________________________ and may be commingled for invest-
ment purposes with other funds administered by HHE without restriction as to permissible investments. The
principal of this gift shall be held in perpetuity, and the income (as determined by HHE) may be distributed to
the beneficiary institution(s.)”

                                         The Option of Writing a Codicil

If you already have a will you have the option of writing a codicil which contains a paragraph you would
like to add to an existing will or living trust, may be drawn up, notarized and attached to your existing estate
document(s). If you do this yourself, the entire codicil should be written in your own hand.

The following is an example of a codicil for a specific bequest.

“In addition to the will I executed on (Date of Will), I now desire to add this provision for (name of charitable
organization, such as “Hindu Heritage Endowment” printed here) located at (address of charitable organization,
such as “107 Kaholalele Road Kapaa, Hawaii 96746-9304” printed here) namely to provide (specify percentage of
estate or dollar amount, or describe asset) to be used for (specify particular fund or write “where most needed”)

Dated: ____________________ Signed _________________________________________________________

Witnessed: __________________________________________________________

                       Hindu Heritage Endowment Legacy Sangha Membership Form
Swami Shanmuganatha
Charitable Funds Manager
Hindu Heritage Endowment
107 Kaholalele Road
Kapaa, Hawaii 96746-9304

Dear Swami Shanmuganatha,
(Check one):
o      I have remembered the Hindu Heritage Endowment through a bequest in my will or trust or in some
other way. Please enroll me in the Hindu Heritage Endowment Legacy Sangha. You may publish my name on the
Hindu Heritage Endowment Legacy Sangha Honor Roll.
o      I have remembered the Hindu Heritage Endowment through a bequest in my will or trust or in some
other way. Please enroll me in the Hindu Heritage Endowment Legacy Sangha. Do not, however, publish my

Name(s) (Please Print) __________________________________________



City______________________________________ State _________________ Zip _______________

Signature: ____________________________________________ Date: ________________________

The more information we have regarding your gift, the better able we are to make sure your wishes are honored.
If you are comfortable doing so, please note below the type of gift you have made. Completing this section is
not required for the Hindu Heritage Endowment Legacy Sangha membership nor does this form have any legal
We have provided for the Hindu Heritage Endowment as follows:
o Charitable bequest (Indicate type of bequest): o specific amount
                                                 o percentage
                                                 o whatever’s left over (residual)
                                                 o if all heirs deceased (contingent)

o Charitable remainder trust               o Charitable gift annuity
o Retirement plan designation              o Insurance designation
o Pooled income fund account               o Charitable lead trust
o Other ____________________
o Estimated gift value (optional) ____________
Name of person or entity responsible for transfer: _________________________________________________

Phone number of same: ______________________________

Reflecting on Why the All-Important Will Is Just
One Part of Your Complete Estate Planning Package

         ith fuel and food prices sky high, it’s natural for a fam- they do not want to think about dying or incapacity.
         ily to think about its future financial security. The last   Most attorneys encourage their clients to consider a living
         place you might think to look for help in such mat- trust, a power of attorney for property management, an advance
ters is a Hindu monastery. But, in addition to spiritual direc- health care directive and a will. These are all topics covered in
tion, monasteries around the world offer practical guidance the estate planning tool toolkit.
to help stabilize society during changing times. Many of you          Learn more about estate planning and planned giving at www.
have supported the monastery for years, and we in turn want
to help your family’s future. That is one rea-
son the monastery is happy to provide a free,
well-thought-out estate planning tool toolkit.
  A good estate plan will not make high prices
lower. But it will protect your family from
unnecessary court costs, attorney fees and taxes.
These can do real damage, especially at a time
when prices continue to trend upward.
   One of the most basic but misunderstood
estate planning tools is the will. Some people
think a will avoids probate, the costly court pro-
cess that supervises the distribution of wealth
to others at death. Not true. Your will is a ticket
to probate court. Think of your will as a letter
to the judge, telling him or her who gets your
estate. The judge supervises distribution follow-
ing your will, making sure the right people get
the right things.
   Some think the executor of your will can step
in and manage your assets if you are too ill to
do so. Not true. The executor has no power
until after your death.
   Some think wills can direct who gets every-
thing you own. Not true. Some of your assets—
life insurance and retirement plans, for exam-
ple—indicate who gets what through their own
beneficiary designations. Wills cannot simply
override these designations.
   Despite these and other limi t ations—
costs, delay, and their public nature—wills are a
blessing to families who would otherwise watch
helplessly as the court distributes their loved
one’s estate according to an impersonal formula
that might have little to do with the decedent’s
  This is why a will is usually the first docu-
ment people think of when drafting an estate
plan. Even so, 58 percent of adult Americans
don’t have one according to a new survey from Here are some other interesting
statistics from the survey’s findings:
  • 18 percent of Americans experience problems,
due to a lack of or a flawed estate plan, after the
death or incapacitation of a loved one.              A woman leaves her physical body and is received by her guardian devas in her
  • Nearly eight percent of Americans without astral body at the moment of her Great Departure. She is happy that—guided
an estate plan say they do not have one because by her estate planning tool kit—her personal and financial affairs are settled.

Tale of Two Brothers Shows How Crucial
the Choice of One’s Trustee Can Be

     wo brothers, never very close, were surprised when at times of great stress.
     their 85-year-old mother called and asked them to meet             No matter how well written your living trust is, the choice of
     with her. She would not tell them why. “My friends at your successor trustee remains crucial to its fulfillment.
the senior center keep telling me I’m crazy not to have a liv-          The Hindu Heritage Endowment wants you to succeed in
ing trust,” she told them when they met at her aging Vic- your estate planning efforts and, through them, both care for
torian on the edge of town.“I want you boys to help me.” your family and remember good causes like the Iraivan Temple
  Amol, a hotel manager in his late fifties, lived just north of Endowment.
San Francisco with his wife. They had two adult children in the         We’ve placed a brief trustee code of ethics on our website
area. His much younger brother, Partha, a software engineer, which you may review at
lived alone in San Jose, in Silicon Valley. Amol, to Partha’s relief, shtml.
found a local estate planning attorney. In three weeks the
trust was ready for their mother’s signature. The two broth-
ers were named successor co-trustees with equal powers.
  All went well for three years. Then Amol, who visited his
mother often, found her one weekend afternoon unable to
continue a conversation. The diagnosis at the local emer-
gency room was transient ischemic attack, a temporary
lack of blood to the brain.
  Shortly after they arrived at emergency, his mother was
fully alert and clamoring to go home. But they spent the
next five hours waiting for tests and the doctor’s report.
The doctor could find nothing specific, but insisted on
overnight observation. The mother, discharged the next
day, left fuming at being kept from her home when she
had felt “perfectly fine.”
  When Amol told Partha of the incident that afternoon,
Partha asked pointedly why he hadn’t been called right
away. “You’ve kept your distance for the last twenty years,
and now you want me to be your personal eye-witness
news team?” Amol shot back.
  So it went for four more years as their mother continued
to suffer fainting spells and diminished capacity. Partha
regularly second-guessed his brother’s decisions. Amol
grew resentful of the time his mother required of him as
the nearby son. Then one of Amol’s children began taking
what Partha thought was an unseemly interest in the value
of his grandmother’s estate.
  The damage to already tenuous family relationships was
substantial. So far, the brothers have avoided taking each
other to court, but just barely.
  Amol and Partha’s story, though fictional, is a composite
of true stories. Despite situations like these, estate planning
attorneys continue to promote living trusts because they
work so well in most cases, allowing families to handle
major assets without court intervention and bypassing
probate. But many living-trust boosters have tempered
their enthusiasm by emphasizing the need for great care
when selecting a successor trustee.
  Having the love of a parent is not the sole qualification.
Trustees need to have the competence to manage assets,
the discipline not to consider property in a trust as theirs, Use care when selecting a trustee for a living trust. Otherwise,
the ability to cooperate with others, and the self-control to contention among family members may arise, as shown here.
exercise fairness, honesty, respect, courtesy and good faith Choosing a qualified trustee helps ensure harmonious conditions.

Why Do You Need to Know
About Revocable Living Trusts?

      he Hindu Heritage Endowment (HHE) wants you to have a           trust. And just as a corporation does not go through probate
      good estate plan to protect yourself and your family. It can    when the CEO dies, your living trust avoids probate at your
      also help you make a lasting difference to worthy causes like   death. Your successor trustee simply steps in and follows the
the Iraivan Temple.                                                   rules and instructions of the trust.
  “Dying intestate” is the ugly legal phrase used to describe an         Living trusts are useful during life as well. If, for example, you
adult passing away with no estate plan, a condition that sets up      become unable to manage your real estate or finances through
family and friends for confusion, dissension, delay and conflict      illness or accident, your successor trustee can take charge.
at a time of great stress. Many adults die intestate. According       There’s no costly and embarrassing public conservatorship
to a recent survey by legal publishers LexisNexis Martindale-         hearing.
Hubbell, 58% of American adults don’t have a will, much less a           Revocable living trusts do have some disadvantages. They are
complete estate plan.                                                 more detailed than most wills, and so the cost of writing them
   HHE encourages all families to have complete estate plans.         is usually more than a will. Also, you must remember to transfer
Nowadays, that means having a will, a revocable living trust,         assets to your trust. If you do not, your living trust will remain
power of attorney for property management and an advance              an elaborate but empty shell, like a safe deposit box with noth-
health care directive.                                                ing in it.
   At death, a will becomes a set of legally binding instructions       A living trust needs to be managed and its assets distributed
that govern the distribution of your assets. Some people mistak-      according to its terms. Your successor trustee is supposed to take
enly think that a will avoids probate. On the contrary, a will is a   care of these important and sometimes complex tasks promptly,
ticket to probate court; but probate has the advantage of making      so choose your trustee with care.
sure your assets get distributed as your will directs. It has the       A well-managed living trust is a solace to your family and a
disadvantage of being expensive, time-consuming and public.           boon to good causes. Naming the Iraivan Temple Endowment
So, are you doing yourself and your heirs a disservice if all you     as a beneficiary of a living trust for a percentage of your estate,
have is a will?                                                       a specific amount, or a specific property can usually result in a
   A revocable living trust does avoid probate, but what exactly      timely distribution at minimum cost. You can use your living
is it? Think of a revocable living trust as a mini-corporation that   trust to create a future endowment fund at the Temple in your
holds title to your most important possessions: your home, your       name or the name of a loved one. Like the gardens that sur-
investment portfolio and your cash reserves. Though you still         round the Temple, your living trust will produce blossoms for
have complete control over these possessions, you no longer           a thousand years in the form of harvested income from your
hold them in your name. They are held by your revocable living        fund’s principal.

An Advance Health Care
Directive Saves a Family Grief

      anjit Sharma had slipped into a coma from which, his management and hospice care 
      doctors said, he would not awaken. His grieving fam-           • Who is to make sure your wishes are carried out
      ily, however, had one great consolation: Sanjit had put         Keep your original signed form and give copies to the person
down in writing what he wanted done in just this circumstance. you appoint as your agent and any alternates, your physician, fam-
   Rather than debating if and when to take their father/grandfa- ily members, and the health care institution providing your care.
ther off life support—remember the Terri Schiavo case conten-         Don’t rely on this brief article for authoritative guidance.
tiously argued in the US Congress?—they referred his doctor to Again, an estate planning attorney is your best resource. 
Sanjit’s advance health care directive.                               For more information on advance health care directives, visit the
  “I already have that in my files,” the doctor told them. “San- Hindu Heritage Endowment website,, and
jit gave us a copy when he was in the hospital five years ago.” click on Planned Giving, then Essentials and then Living Wills.
The family breathed a communal sigh of relief.
They still had many issues to face, but Sanjit had
lifted from their shoulders this delicate decision.
Besides saving them from conflict at a time of
great stress, he also saved his estate from the enor-
mous expense of high-tech but, in his case, futile
medical treatment.
   The advance health care directive, also known
as a durable power of attorney for health care, is
a legal document, similar to a living will, that lets
your physician, family and friends know your
health care preferences, regarding the types of
special treatment you want or don’t want at the
end of life, your desire for diagnostic testing, sur-
gical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation
and organ donation.
   The Hindu belief in the rebirth and reincarna-
tion of souls transforms death from a calamity to a
natural process, a means by which the soul sheds
one body and continues its evolution in another.
But our technical ability to keep patients alive
and the natural inclination to prolong the life of a
loved one can create conflict among family mem-
bers who are keeping vigil by the bedside. 
   By completing an advance health care direc-
tive, you, like Sanjit, can avoid having your family
making crucial medical decisions for you at a time
of emotional turmoil, and assure that your wishes
are fulfilled.
   Most US states have a form you can fill out to
express your health care wishes. If you have Inter-
net access, google “Hawaii Advance Health Care
Directive” or “California Advance Health Care
Directive (California Probate Code Sample Form).”
Ideally, have an estate planning attorney guide you
to make sure your wishes conform to both state
and federal law.  Your health care directive will
allow you to make clear:
  • What is important to you when you are dying
  • Specific medical treatments you especially want
or do not want
  • Whether you want to be in a nursing home, a
hospital or at home                                   Lacking an advance health care directive, a family is
  • Your preferences regarding palliative care/pain forced to resolve its conflicts in a court of law

How a Marital Bypass Trust
May Save Thousands in Taxes

         haval and Radha’s attorney warned them to pro-               to the surviving spouse tax-free?” Radha asked, wondering now
         tect their $5 million estate with a marital bypass trust.    why all this was so complicated.
          “What’s a marital bypass trust?” Radha asked during          “Because the day of reckoning has only been postponed, not
their first visit to his office.                                      eliminated,” the attorney explained. 
 “It’s the same as a credit shelter trust or an A-B Trust.”            “On the death of the second spouse, the estate becomes vulner-
 “Yes, but what is it and what does it do?”                           able to estate tax.  Without a marital bypass trust, you will have
 “Look at Dhaval,” the attorney said gesturing toward her hus-        lost one-half of the estate tax protection you have as a married
band.  “Imagine him carrying a sack marked ‘$2 million’ over          couple.”
his shoulder.  Dhaval dies.  Not only he passes from this life, but    “So what should we do?” Dhaval asked.  He had begun to tally
so does that $2 million, unless you have a marital bypass trust.”     in his mind the tax on $2 million of their estate that could be
 “But I thought on the death of the first spouse the surviving        transferred tax-free.
spouse got everything,” Dhaval said. “That’s true,” the attorney       “Here’s what I propose,” the attorney offered, looking up from
answered. “And if the surviving spouse is a US citizen, he or she     his yellow legal pad where he had roughed out the $800,000-
gets everything free of federal estate tax.  But that $2 million is   plus tax savings a marital bypass trust would provide. “I’ll write
not $2 million in cash or property; it’s a $2 million exclusion       your estate plan so that the surviving spouse may either take
from estate tax.”                                                     the entire estate directly or choose to place part of the estate
 “But why do we need estate tax protection if everything passes       into a marital bypass trust.  The choice will be yours, and you
                                                                                                    can make it depending on the size
                                                                                                    of your estate at that time and the
                                                                                                    current laws.”
                                                                                                     “Since I have coronary artery dis-
                                                                                                    ease, the bypass trust will be well
                                                                                                    named,” Dhaval quipped.
                                                                                                     “Yes,” the attorney mumbled with
                                                                                                    a weak smile.
                                                                                                     “Puns aside, the bypass trust will
                                                                                                    eventually pass to your children,
                                                                                                    but in the meantime the trust assets
                                                                                                    are invested exclusively for the sur-
                                                                                                    viving spouse who receives all the
                                                                                                    income and can invade principal if
                                                                                                    his or her health, education or wel-
                                                                                                    fare is at stake.”
                                                                                                      Leaning toward the couple for
                                                                                                    emphasis, he added: “The fact
                                                                                                    that the surviving spouse does not
                                                                                                    directly own what’s in the marital
                                                                                                    bypass trust preserves the dece-
                                                                                                    dent’s $2 million exclusion from
                                                                                                    estate tax, or whatever that exclu-
                                                                                                    sion is at time of death.”
                                                                                                     “But what if the trust grows
                                                                                                    beyond exclusion amount?” Dha-
                                                                                                    val asked.
                                                                                                     “It doesn’t matter.  The full amount
                                                                                                    in the trust, whatever it ends up
                                                                                                    being, is completely protected.”
                                                                                                      Leaving the attorney’s office, Dha-
                                                                                                    val and Radha felt slightly woozy. 
                                                                                                    Why, they wondered, did so much
                                                                                                    of their children’s inheritance
                                                                                                    depend on such obscure points of
Talk to your attorney about the pros and cons of using a marital                                   law? Still, it was helpful to have such
bypass trust with your children as beneficiaries                                                   sophisticated options.

Community Property and Joint Tenancy:
Why the Way You Hold Property Matters

   n 1969 when Ajit and Inayat bought their California home, a          His answer was curt but his math correct. Holding their home
  year after they were married, their realtor suggested they hold    in joint tenancy meant that when Ajit died, Inayat did not get a
   it in joint tenancy.                                              full “step-up in basis,” a technical term for a financial favor we
 “It’s more convenient,” he explained. “When one of you dies,        do our heirs at death.
the survivor gets the decedent’s half of the home automatically        When an heir receives a full step-up in basis, the property he
and without probate.”                                                or she receives from us upon our death is viewed by the IRS as
  All the young couple remembered was “without probate.”             though they had bought it at its full fair market value. So if they
  Ajit told Inayat that when his unmarried uncle died unexpect-      sell it, they may have little or no capital gains to worry about.
edly, the estate was tied up in probate court for a year. He would   If Ajit and Inayat had held their home as community property,
not want her to be subjected to that kind of delay and expense.      Inayat would have avoided being taxed on the $275,000, her
Joint tenancy it would be.                                           realtor explained.
  Shortly after celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary,       “That’s not fair!” Inayat moaned. “I know, but it’s the law.”
Ajit suddenly died. As planned, his widow received his half of         Though fictional, this tale is based on the many painful expe-
the home without the delay or costs of probate.                      riences of married couples living in community property states.
  With their children raised and the home too large for her to         You may have no capital gains to worry about, even if you use
manage, Inayat put the house on the market for $900,000 and          joint tenancy. Why? Every home owner has a $250,000 exclu-
received an offer for the full amount within a week, this for a      sion from capital gains tax when they sell a personal residence,
home they had bought decades earlier for under $50,000.              as long as they’ve lived there at least two years. Married couples
  But with the sale came a shock: she had to pay federal and         can combine their exclusions for a total of $500,000. In certain
state capital gains taxes on $275,000 of the sale proceeds.          markets, however, even that may not fully cover the gain.
 “Why?” she asked her realtor.                                          So, if you’re married, should you rush out and change title to
 “Because you and Ajit held your home in joint tenancy rather        your home and other assets (rental property and investments
than as community property,” he said.                                held in joint tenancy have no $250,000 exclusion from capital
 “What difference does that make?” she asked, her voice rising.      gains tax) from joint tenancy to community property? Not with-
 “About $65,000 in taxes,” he retorted.                              out legal advice and a financial analysis of your situation.

Prior to buying a home, talk to your real estate agent about the differences between joint tenancy and community property

Charitable Remainder Trusts and Pooled Income
Funds Balance Financial Needs and Charity

       he best way to learn about the tax and income advantages       age 75, bought a rental unit years ago. He finds himself yearning
       of our pooled income fund and of charitable remainder          to be free of landlord worries. The property has been recently
       trusts is through the stories of those who have utilized       appraised at $350,000.
them. Here are three.                                                    He is startled to discover he will be faced with capital gains
  A No-fuss Trust: A married couple, both 65, wanted to sell          taxes on $300,000. To bypass the tax, he contributes the prop-
$25,000 of appreciated stock they had purchased years before          erty to something called a charitable remainder unitrust.
for $5,000. “Guess who will be the first to congratulate you on          His attorney tells him that a unitrust will pay him a fixed per-
your investment acumen?” their accountant asked them with an          centage of the trust’s value annually for life. His income needs
unnerving smile.                                                      are modest, so he sets the unitrust’s payment rate at the mini-
 “The IRS,” they replied. The math was simple.They would have         mum allowed by law: 5%. That will provide him with $17,500 in
to pay capital gains taxes on $20,000 if they sold the stock con-     the first year. The unitrust will also give him a charitable income
ventionally. Instead, they contributed the stock to the Hindu         tax deduction of $212,820. If the value of the trust increases or
Heritage Endowment Charitable Pooled Income Fund.                     decreases, so will his payment.
  The Fund sold the stock tax free, and the couple is being paid         He transfers the property to the unitrust, which sells it free of
the income for life. They also received a charitable income tax       capital gains tax. At his death, whatever remains in the trust will go
deduction of $7,377.                                                  to the Iraivan Temple Endowment and a few other causes he favors.
  The key to the deal, however, was not tax and income advan-            Income for Life to Disabled Child: A Hindu Heritage Endow-
tages, but the ultimate gift to Hindu causes. They also liked the     ment supporter has an adult son who has suffered from mental
Fund’s simplicity—about the same paperwork needed to open a           illness for many years. Though he is proud of how well the child
bank account. They now call their pooled income fund account          functions in the community, he is concerned that he could eas-
their “no-fuss trust.”                                                ily be defrauded if he were to receive his inheritance outright.
  Tax-free Sale of Real Estate: An Iraivan Temple supporter,             He, of course, can help him while he is alive. But what will
                                                                                                           happen when he dies? His
                                                                                                           estate planning attorney sug-
                                                                                                           gests a testamentary charitable
                                                                                                           trust. “Whenever you hear the
                                                                                                           word testamentary, it means
                                                                                                           something goes into effect
                                                                                                           upon your death,” the attorney
                                                                                                            “Until that time, you have
                                                                                                           complete control over every-
                                                                                                           thing. At your death, the
                                                                                                           charitable trust is funded and
                                                                                                           pays income to your son the
                                                                                                           rest of his life. Trust principal
                                                                                                           is protected and professionally
                                                                                                           managed for his benefit. At his
                                                                                                           death, principal will pass to
                                                                                                           the Hindu Heritage Endow-
                                                                                                           ment to support the causes of
                                                                                                           your choice.”
                                                                                                             Your Story: If your story,
                                                                                                           or the story of someone you
                                                                                                           know, includes circumstances
                                                                                                           that warrant the use of a no-
                                                                                                           fuss trust account (our Pooled
                                                                                                           Income Fund) or a charitable
                                                                                                           remainder trust, visit the HHE
                                                                                                           Web site,,
                                                                                                           and click on Planned Giving
                                                                                                           and then Ways to Give.
The pooled income fund is one way to make a meaningful gift to your
important causes, and also provide major benefits for you

Durable Power of Attorney: When You Need
to Give Others Control of Your Property

           re you out of your mind?” So thought Aditya, a well-trav-      • Enter into contracts on behalf of the principal
           eled engineer in his forties with an international client      • Make gifts on behalf of the principal
           base, when his attorney first suggested he name some-          • Disclaim gifts or bequests made to the principal
 one to control his bank accounts, make his mortgage payments             • Deal with life insurance on the life of the principal
 and complete and sign his taxes.                                         There were a few people, very few, to whom Aditya would give
    Too polite to speak his misgivings, Aditya revealed them in these powers. He did not relish a judge he did not know making
 his face. “No, no. I’m not asking you to give away the store,” the that choice for him.
 attorney said with a smile. “These powers would spring to life          “Let’s get it drafted,” he declared.
 only when you need them.”                                                For more information on durable powers of attorney for prop-
   “For example?”                                                       erty management and finance, visit the HHE Web site, www.
   “Let’s say you had a serious accident on one of your trips. Doc-, and click on Planned Giving, then Essentials,
 tors confirm you can’t manage your finances for a while. If you and then Power of Attorney.
 have completed a durable power of attorney for prop-
 erty management and finance, someone you have
 chosen could immediately pay your medical bills and
   “And if I haven’t done this, what would happen?”
Aditya queried.
   “Without it the court would have to appoint a conser-
 vator for you,” the attorney explained with a grimace.
“That’s called, logically enough, a court conservator-
 ship. In some cases it’s the only solution, but, believe
 me, you want to avoid it if you can. It’s expensive and
 unpleasant—after all, they have to discuss your men-
 tal competence in public. And in the end they may
 appoint someone you would not want.”
   “ ‘Power of attorney’ does not imply an actual attor-
 ney, does it?
   “No. ‘Attorney’ is used in the broad sense of some-
 one acting in your place and on your behalf, not an
 attorney-at-law like me.”
   “How important is this document?”
   “Well, after I had given an estate planning seminar
 and reviewed the tools of the trade, an emergency-
 room nurse who was in the audience spoke up. ‘Acci-
 dents happen. Everyone should have a durable power
 of attorney for property management, no matter what
 your age, if you own property and have bills’.”
   “Is it a long document?”
   “It can be, depending on what you want your repre-
 sentative to do,” the attorney said. “This is typical,” he
 added, handing Aditya something that looked like an
 accountant’s to-do list. It read:
    • Make deposits and withdrawals from bank accounts
    • Sign tax returns and appoint qualified individu-
 als to represent the principal with the IRS in order to
 make investment decisions
    • Deal with retirement plans, including IRAs
    • Have access to the principal’s safe-deposit box
    • Create a living trust and fund a previously created
 living trust
    • Revoke or change beneficiary designations
    • Vote the principal’s stock                             Incapacitated by an injury, a woman is grateful she had the
    • Forgive or collect the principal’s debts               foresight to appoint a conservator for such an eventuality


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